Zimbabwe – 117-7 in 20 overs (Regis Chakabva 47, Wellington Masakadza 19*, Craig Ervine 17; Craig Young 2/15, Simi Singh 2/22, Shane Getkate 1/16)
Ireland – 114-9 in 20 overs (Simi Singh 28*, Kevin O’Brien 25, Paul Stirling 24; Ryan Burl 3/22, Luke Jongwe 2/17, Wellington Masakadza 2/18)
Zimbabwe won by three runs
Richard Ngarava bowled a terrific final over as Zimbabwe defended a low total to clinch an incredible three-run win over Ireland in a T20I thriller at Clontarf on Friday.
The hosts were on the brink of victory, needing six runs off the very last over, but the 23-year-old pacer held his nerve, bowling exceptionally well and conceding only two runs to hand the tourists a sensational start in the five-match series.
After being put in to bat first, Zimbabwe struggled to cope on a pitch that was offering some movement to the bowlers.
The visitors were soon in trouble, losing the openers Wessly Madhevere and Tadiwanashe Marumani, both having scored one run each, inside the first three overs with only five runs on the board.
The in-form Regis Chakabva however came in to stabilise the innings with what was to be a match-defining 47 off 28 balls, a magnificent knock that included one six and four fours.
Along the way, the captain Craig Ervine and Ryan Burl chipped in with 17 and 12 respectively.
Wellington Masakadza then scored an unbeaten 19, with one boundary, off 15 deliveries, as Zimbabwe ground out a total of 117 for seven in their allotted 20 overs.
Craig Young and Simi Singh were the pick of the Irish bowlers as they finished with two wickets apiece.
In response, the hosts enjoyed a steady start, with their openers Paul Sterling and Kevin O’Brien scoring 24 and 25 respectively.
However, after the duo’s departure none but one of the following Ireland batsmen were to reach double digits, with Burl, Masakadza and Luke Jongwe sharing seven wickets to take the game to the death.
With Singh still in, Ireland were still hopeful of getting the six they required off the final over to seal victory.
But Ngarava had other ideas, showing nerves of steel as he conceded only two runs, taking a wicket and helping effect a run-out in the process to condemn the home side to defeat.
Ireland and Zimbabwe will meet in the second T20I at the same venue on Sunday.